In an effort to improve trout fishing opportunities, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has proposed a package of fishing regulations for 26 streams in six southeast counties.
Under the proposal, 14 streams would be subject to a protected slot for all trout from 12-16 inches, seven streams would be catch-and-release for all trout, and two streams would have a 12-inch maximum size limit for brook trout. An additional three streams that support trout, but aren't officially designated trout streams, would carry a catch-and-release regulation for all trout. With the exception of those three undesignated streams, where bait would be allowed, all the streams coming under the newly proposed regulations would be restricted to artificial lures and flies. The proposal would increase the miles of southeast Minnesota trout streams with special regulations from the existing 53.3 to 137.2, out of a total of 680. It would also add another 44.3 miles of special trout regulations on undesignated streams.
The proposed regulations are the outcome of a two-year process of gathering public input from a wide variety of trout anglers. During five meetings in the spring of 2003 and a roundtable in August 2003, anglers expressed support for the type of tiered regulation approach embodied in the new proposal.
"These regulations balance the expectations of anglers who want to catch larger trout with those who are happy bringing home a few fish for the frying pan," said DNR fisheries section chief Ron Payer. "With this proposal, there should be ample opportunity for all anglers to enjoy the type of experience they're hoping for."
The proposed regulations will be open to comment, with public input meetings planned for fall 2004 in Goodhue, Wabasha, Winona, Olmsted, Houston and Fillmore Counties. An additional public input meeting will be held in the Twin Cities. Signs detailing the proposed regulations will be posted along affected streams in early April 2004. If approved, the new regulations would be effective starting with the 2005 fishing season.
"Across the upper midwest, southeastern Minnesota is increasingly recognized as a destination for trout fishing," said Jason Moeckel, DNR assistant regional fisheries manager in Rochester. "This proposal will give us an opportunity to evaluate how well angling regulations work in combination with other management tools to continue our progress toward a world-class coldwater fishery."